As Bible Conference draws to a close, students will have heard roughly 11 hours of preaching over the last week. But how can they transfer all that knowledge from their heads to their hearts in order to bring about real, lasting change?
Here’s a list of tips from University faculty and students on how to keep spiritual decisions made during Bible Conference.
Set measurable and attainable goals:
“When teachers want to teach something, they set goals,” said Dr. Dan Olinger, chair of the Division of Bible. “They don’t just say, ‘I want to teach quantum mechanics.’ They make it more specific, and it’s the same for making decisions.”
If you’re trying to fix a larger issue, it’s important to break the problem into smaller steps, Olinger said. Write out a plan and keep track of your daily progress. Vague plans are difficult to act on, so be as specific as possible.
Ben Jacquot, a junior Bible major and president of the ministerial class, can personally attest to the need of having a specific plan when making a decision. He gave an example of when he decided to cultivate a more consistent prayer life. At first, the proposition seemed easy.
“I got a notebook and devoted a couple pages to each day of the week, and I picked out themes to go with the days,” Jacquot said. “Sunday was prayer for my home church, Monday was family, etc.”
But when his schedule became more hectic, Jacquot struggled to keep his decision, acknowledging that sometimes plans need adjustment.
By setting small, realistic goals students can take the lessons they learn and make them have an impact far beyond Bible Conference.
Olinger, who would have attended Bible Conference services as a student roughly 40 years ago, can still remember specific messages from speakers like Charles Smith and J.B. Williams.
Olinger attributes these memories partially to note-taking, which he believes is an important part of retaining a decision. He recommends taking any kind of notes, whether they’re detailed outlines or whether they just capture an important thought here and there.
Don’t get discouraged:
Olinger compared keeping a decision to daily hygiene habits. He said that, just like the decision to brush your teeth every day, you must choose to maintain a spiritual decision day after day. Also, you must not get discouraged when you do fail. If you missed brushing your teeth for one day, you wouldn’t quit brushing your teeth altogether.
“That attitude is really Satan speaking,” Olinger said. “He wants you to believe that you’re guilty and might as well stay that way.”
Matt Bohin, a junior Bible major, used an analogy found in Scripture: athletic training. “An Olympian achieves victory, not because of one good workout or performance, but because of many vigorous training sessions,” Bohin said.
Bible Conference is really only the beginning of a decision. Once you’ve decided you need to change, you must decide every day to continue that change.
“Some people can just decide to change, but most of us aren’t that disciplined,” Olinger said.
After making a decision to change, you should find someone you can trust to help you stick with your decision. An accountability partner needs to be someone who knows you well and with whom you are comfortable sharing your struggle. Olinger pointed out that this is why gossip can be so detrimental. If someone shares something personal with you, and you go and tell it to other people, how can you be trusted as an accountability partner?
God has surrounded Christians with a network of fellow believers who can aid in the process of obtaining sanctification. Be willing to acknowledge your weakness and seek the help of others.